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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 18:55 GMT
Informal Tube strike talks fail
Hammersmith and City Line
The Tube was due to run all night on New Year's Eve
Informal talks between transport unions and management to try to prevent a proposed Tube strike on New Year's Eve have broken down.

The talks between the RMT union and London Underground (LU) came ahead of formal discussions through conciliation service Acas planned for Thursday.

About 4,000 Tube staff are due to walk out at noon on 31 December in a dispute over staffing levels.

It is not known whether the RMT will turn up at Thursday's talks.

Parade threat

The 24-hour strike was called over new working rosters drawn up by LU, which it says has already been agreed by the union. Talks before Christmas failed to reach an agreement.

The RMT's station staff voted by more than five to one for action over the new working week roster, which the union says has led to "back-door staff cuts" and could jeopardise Tube safety.

Meanwhile, the New Year's Day parade could suffer low turnout because of a 24-hour Tube strike.

Crowds at New Year's Day Parade
The parade attracts hundreds of thousands of people

Parade organiser Bob Bone told BBC London that even if trains start running again on New Year's Day, it might be too late for his event.

The parade, which involves thousands of performers, attracted 480,000 spectators last year.

The walkout is due to end by noon on 1 January - the time marching bands and dance troupes are due to start parading in Parliament Square.

But Mr Bone, who has been involved in organising the parade since the first one in 1987, fears the strike will end too late for many people.

He told BBC London: "Surely it makes sense to talk about it and see if a resolution can be reached because it [the parade] is going to be much better in terms of being an advert for London if it's going full tilt with its usual level of success.

'Safety fears'

"It's an unfortunate bit of timing for the dispute, not just for my event, but obviously for New Year's Eve."

Bob Crow, head of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, which is calling the strike, said members will not work unless they were given assurances that plans to keep stations open round the clock were safe.

The RMT fears London Underground plans, which include closing ticket offices, could lead to job losses and compromise safety.

He said: "We've really got to concentrate London Underground's minds to see that what they are doing with the staff and stations is going to be safe or not."

But London Underground spokesman Mike Brown said: "We will have exactly the same number of station staff on the new rosters. What we will have is more visible staff.

"So instead of having people in a ticket office selling one ticket an hour we are going to have people on the stations."


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